Brazil’s midfielder Diego once told a German magazine that scoring a goal feels like having an orgasm.
Whether or not others agree with that bold statement, it is undeniable that scoring a goal must evoke sheer joy and happiness by both the player that scored, as well as his teammates.
That joy is expressed in different ways – but it’s never just a simple affair. In some cases, celebrating a goal turns into a performance art on the field.
“While it is permissible for a player to demonstrate his joy when a goal has been scored, the celebration must not be excessive,” the official FIFA rule says about goal celebrations, but the perception of what exactly ‘excessive’ means varies from player to player.
German striker Miroslav Klose famously used to celebrate each goal with a salto – but given the fact that he’s already 34 years old, it is a wise decision to refrain from this stunt nowadays. When Klose scored against Greece in the Euro quarterfinals on Friday, his joy was visible, but certainly not excessive: he simply kissed his ring finger and high-fived and hugged the German players that stood closest to him.
There are others that immediately sprint towards the crowd to get approval from their fans, and others again seem to play tag with their teammates as they chase the goal scorer in order to congratulate him, but he does his best to escape.
There is the knee slide, the diving onto the grass, the baby rocking, the thankful and devoted look into the sky, the shoe shining, the kissing the emblem. Some players clench the fist and release the tension through an an animal-like scream.
The majority of the players seem to feel the urge to rip off their jerseys, but since this would result in a yellow card, the footballers have to restrain themselves from doing so: in some
cases, they lift up their jerseys and – surprise, surprise – they wear undershirts or tank tops with messages, normally in the range of “I love God,” or “Jesus is my savior.”
One of the most memorable and amusing goal celebrations came during the World Cup 1990, during which Cameroon striker Roger Milla – already 38 at that time – delighted the crowds with his infamous corner flag dance. His manic wiggles were almost more entertaining than the goals that he scored for his country, and they were dearly missed after Cameroon had bowed out of the tournament.
Giovane Elber, Bayern Munich striker, painted the picture of a peace dove into the air, after he scored for the first time after the deadly 9/11 attacks.
In Germany, there was a funny incident when Jonas Kamper of Bielefeld – a substitute player that had just come off the bench – scored a goal. Instead of a playful celebration, he ran back to the bench and sat down quietly, with an expressionless face. He was, after all, only a sub.
Of course, strikers are always looking to score as many goals as possible to write football history. The goal celebration however, the way each player expresses his joy, reveals the person behind the athlete.
Are they shy, are they spirited, are they humorous, are they exuberant? Or are they plain arrogant?
Cristiano Ronaldo’s celebration of his goal suggested that he demanded praise from his teammates when he trotted towards the field sideline, turned around and boastfully gestured to the other players to come slowly towards him so that they could congratulate him on his incomparable performance.
Ronaldo is without a doubt a brilliant football player, but his diva-like behavior and conviction that he is the best, the greatest, clearly seen in the way he celebrates a goal, makes him quite unappealing and unsympathetic.
In fact, the Euro 2012 is slowly but surely coming to an end, with the semifinals underway on Wednesday and Thursday night, during which the remaining teams – Portugal, Germany, Spain and Italy – will fight for the two open slots in the big final.
I’d love to see more goals and wouldn’t mind some crazy, never-seen-before celebrations – flag dances, robot moves, hell, even a flash mob – but I’d really wish that Nani takes over the goalscoring for Portugal from now on.